I've been an avid Orson Scott Card reader for years now, and am continually impressed by the sheer volume of great ideas he brings together in his novels. The Ender series, his short stories, and Alvin Maker series are among my favorites of the genre. Hidden Empire is no such thing. I had mixed feelings with the first Empire novel, due to the amount of time it spent bombarding me with political philosophies I disagree with. But that book made up for it with an incredibly interesting story, interesting characters, and OSC's usual terrific prose.
Hidden Empire had all of the bad of Empire, with none of the good. It felt more like an infomercial for Fox News and Christianity than a Sci-Fi thriller. At least three separate times he referenced Fox News by name specifically to favorably contrast them with their competitors. We were told that MSNBC thinks Christians are stupid. We were told that Fox got to interview the leader of a movement while the 'other' networks just found the craziest people they could find. Even if I agreed with that (I don't), and even if it were true (it isn't), it has no place in a novel like this. For a novel that claims to be against blind partisanship and political extremism, jumping into the ring to say which news network is superior is hypocritical at best, outright insulting to readers at worst.
As for the plot itself, it's almost non-existent. When I read books, I always come in to work the next day wanting to talk to friends about the details of what was happening. In this book, almost nothing happened worth talking about. The first 275 pages of the 330-page book were almost completely devoid of what anyone would define as an 'event'. There was a rescue from an embassy, and that was about it. The best way to summarize this point is to say that the plot description written on the dust jacket of the book doesn't start until the last 30 pages...no joke. I honestly had to check to make sure that the book I was reading matched the dust jacket, that's how little the book resembles the description. And in an extreme case of irony, the dust jacket description uses the phrase "quickly runs afoul", as in the protagonist QUICKLY got on the bad side of someone. How page 300 out of 330 is 'quickly' is beyond me. The cover of the book also shows a scene from the first book, not this one, probably because there was almost no action in this one to put on the cover. It's misleading to say the least.
In short, if OSC had published this book in 1985 instead of Ender's Game, we would have no idea who he is. His political beliefs and religion have completely overshadowed his ability to construct an interesting narrative. One-dimensional characters, horrific pacing, lack of action, and an absurd amount of preaching make this a book to avoid.